Biggest OFW group hits DOLE’s direct hiring ban

January 11, 2009

01/11/2009 | 10:50 AM
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MANILA, Philippines – The largest alliance of Overseas Filipino Workers’ groups worldwide are up in arms over the recent order by the Labor Department banning direct-hiring of Hong Kong-bound Filipino household service workers.

“The Arroyo regime’s slave traders in the Labor Department has once again exposed its treachery and barefaced underhandedness when it sneakily ordered the ban on direct hiring of OFWs bound for Hong Kong,” said Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.

Upon direct orders from Labor Secretary Marianito Roque, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Hong Kong has announced recently that starting January 1, 2009, they will no longer process documents of direct or name hired OFWs.

Migrante International said this move runs contrary to the February 2008 Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) decision exempting the countries Hong Kong, Italy and Canada from the Philippine direct hiring ban as stipulated in POEA Memorandum Circular No. 04.

To recall, the Philippine government retreated last year from fully implementing POEA MC – 04 after facing global protests from OFWs calling for its abrogation.

“In this time of severe financial crisis, this latest order from the Labor Department will surely put OFWs to an ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’ kind of situation. The direct hire ban will certainly drive OFWs into deeper debt bondage and modern day slavery because they will be forced to submit themselves to abusive recruitment agencies that impose astronomical fees but are utterly indifferent to their plight,” Martinez said.

At the same time, Martinez added that the order is another scheme that absolves the Philippine government of any responsibility regarding OFWs in distress.

Martinez further said that his group is preparing to mount coordinated national and international actions against the latest DOLE order.

“As the Arroyo regime is apparently determined to cook up ways to further exploit our ranks and bleed us dry even before we are deployed abroad, Migrante International vows to stand guard against all their machinations and make them fully accountable for their gross abandonment of OFWs’ rights and welfare,” he said. – D’Jay Lazaro, GMANews.TV

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The Sarah Villegas experience (with illegal recruiter)

May 27, 2008

I just would like to share some news from the travails of Sarah Villegas, an OFW who was a victim of illegal recruitment who ended up distressed in Singapore (no jobs).

We posted her appeal to some forums, and we are thankful to kind people who passed her appeal among friends. There were lawyers who volunteered to take her case, pro-bono.

We also caused the publication of Sarah’s letter to the Inquirer’s Global Nation website, under Mailbag.

According to Sarah, as a result of that posting, she received a call from the POEA adminsitrator inquiring about here case, since they receive a letter from the office of Sen. Chiz Escudero regarding Sarah’s case. They (Sarah & co.) were also invited to his office to discuss their case.

Sarah said that she also received e-mails from the offices of Sen. Noynoy Aquino and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada indicating their support on her plight.

Also, other victims of the said illegal recruiter were encouraged to file their own cases with POEA. But during a conciliation meeting sometime in May 13, 2008, a POEA conciliation officer named Rose Andres and a certain Miss Claudette, representative of NRS Recrutiment Agecy, allegedly told the new complainants that NRS agency will file a LIBEL case against Ms. Villegas.

Her lawyer assured Sarah that the libel suit will not prosper, and is just a plain harassment.

We thank everyone who responded to help Ms. Villegas, and consequently provided moral support to other victims to file their claims also.

We will monitor this case, if we see something positive will come out of this collective action, such as: criminal prosecution of the illegal recruiter, return of their advance fees plus interest, blacklisting/delisting of all the dummy agencies of the illegal recruiter, administrative action against erring POEA employees who will be found to have connived with illegal recruiters.

————–

My Letter of Appeal for Support
( Sana Inyong Dinggin at tulungang lutasin )

PLEASE HELP ME: A CALL FOR JUSTICE
(The Voice of a young Filipino who suffered a great and traumatic experience as OFW in Hong Kong)

By: SARAH N. VILLEGAS
Matti, Digos City
Province of Davao del Sur
Contact Number: 09289507404
Email add: sararoejade@yahoo.com.ph

I spent almost P 200, 000.00 in my humble desire to work in Hong Kong. It was very painful to be away from my family. Yet, I gamble because I want to save my family from too much poverty. It was too late to know that a simple dream became a worst nightmare. I almost died to fight for a cause. I didn’t loss hope even until now that I am here… in God’s divine mercy… back in the Philippines with my family.

I am Sarah N. Villegas, married, 35 years old and a native of the province of Davao del Sur. I am just a simple housewife …tried my luck to hopefully take the advantage of going abroad as an OFW.

I know you will agree with me that hundreds if not thousands of Filipinos working abroad or planning to work abroad who encountered serious problems. Admittedly, I am one of them. But my case is different. I have a serious case. Please consider the following facts:

A powerful placement agency like NRS PLACEMENT INC, LOVE MANPOWER AGENCY still deploying OFW’s in different countries who have juicy connections with POEA, still operating their business even behind a lot of charges filed in different courts.

The said agency is having a special arrangement of the employers abroad to earn huge amount of income and bargaining transactions in the expense of a poor Filipino. There are even complainants who only settled for P 10, 000 to P 20, 000.00 from over P 200, 000.00 placement fee including other expenses spent in their application just to avoid lengthy court litigations.
It is a fact that NRS PLACEMENT INC. and LOVE MANPOWER AGENCY is opening different branches like and even establishing new placement agency, name BLS agency just to continue their operations. But I cannot understand why all these agencies are still protected by the POEA.

The POEA aware that most of the recruitment agencies are refusing to give a receipt in every payments has been made by applicants.

Other Conflicts

1. Philippine Government Agencies in Hong Kong like the Philippine Consulate are not really there to serve and solve problems of the OFW’s. The truth is they are conniving with the agencies. I am a witness of different transactions.

2. Most of the victims of injustice and / or illegal recruitment were displaced. Some were arrested, maltreated and sexually abused. Others were lucky and blessed because they knew where to go. In my case, I went to a catholic center where I was given the moral support of the religious community.

Important Consideration

I was instructed by HongKong magistrate court to be a prosecution witness because the evidence collected by Hongkong Police is sufficient to sue my employer.

I reported to the media when I was still in Hong Kong where it created a big story. The impact was great because the Philippine Consulate got panic.
I have all the facts, documents and lead to establish a strong case.

The problem is the case is no longer working for almost a year now.

I decided to go back home after 6 months of initial battle in Hongkong because my situation was very difficult.

I was not allowed by Hongkong Government to have a job because I am a prosecution witness.
Manifestations

My family is in great pain. We could hardly survive because we need to pay our debts.
We need to save other OFW’s who are still in Hong Kong and those who went home with broken dreams particularly the victims of this agency.
There is need for those people involved in this case to be brought to court and be accountable.
The case must be given an utmost attention.

Please help me. It is my prayer that with your support we will be able to solve my problem especially that I am so much affected, not only of my personal convictions but also with my concern with other Filipinos who need your PRECIOUS attention.

Maraming Salamat po!

Sa inyo gumagalang,

SARAH N. VILLEGAS
NLRC CASE NO.